From: Kansas State University
Published October 12, 2017 11:53 AM

Climate change predicted to reduce size, stature of dominant Midwest plant, collaborative study finds

The economically important big bluestem grass — a dominant prairie grass and a major forage grass for cattle — is predicted to reduce its growth and stature by up to 60 percent percent in the next 75 years because of climate change, according to a study involving Kansas State University researchers.

The group of scientists — which included collaborators at Missouri Botanical Garden and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale — has published the study in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology. Kansas State University researchers involved include Loretta Johnson, professor of biology; Mary Knapp, associate agronomist and state climatologist; and Jacob Alsdurf, master's student in biology, Olathe. The paper is a culmination of several years of close collaboration and interdisciplinary studies, including species modeling, plant growth studies and climatology.

Big bluestem, or Andropogon gerardii, is a common grass in natural and restored prairies across the central Midwestern region that includes Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa. The grass species is an important component of forage for the region's livestock industry. It also is commonly used in grassland restoration of prairies across several million acres in the Great Plains region.

Read more at Kansas State University

Image: Big bluestem is a dominant prairie grass and major forage grass for cattle. Kansas State University researchers are involved in a study that found climate change is predicted to reduce big bluestem's growth and stature. (Image Credit: Kansas State University) 

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